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Obama Sets GHG Emissions Targets; Travels to Climate Change Conference

December 14, 2009
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WASHINGTON - The White House announced that President Obama is offering a U.S. target for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The proposed target agrees with the limit set by climate legislation that has passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but the U.S. Senate is currently considering a bill that cuts GHG emissions to 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

The White House noted that the final U.S. emissions target will ultimately fall in line with the climate legislation, once that legislation passes both houses of Congress and is approved by the president. In light of the president’s goal for an 83 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2050, the pending legislation also includes a reduction in GHG emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and to 42 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Obama traveled to Copenhagen on Dec. 9 to participate in the United Nations (U.N.) climate change conference. A number of top White House officials and cabinet members are attending the conference, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

For the first time, the U.S. delegation will establish a U.S. Center at the conference, providing an interactive forum to share the United States’ story with the world. The center will feature keynote speeches by top U.S. officials from Dec. 9-17, including a Dec. 14 speech by Secretary Chu on U.S. leadership in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The day after the White House announced the U.S. GHG targets, China announced that it will reduce the intensity of its carbon dioxide emissions by 40-45 percent by 2020. China expects its gross domestic product (GDP) to at least double by 2020, which could potentially result in a doubling of carbon dioxide emissions, but the new target should hold the increase in carbon dioxide emissions to 20 percent or less. The carbon intensity target will be a binding goal that China will incorporate into its medium- and long-term development plans. China also announced plans to invest in the research, development, and commercialization of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, as well as other low-carbon energy technologies.

The country plans to draw on non-fossil-fuel energy sources for 15 percent of its energy needs by 2020 and will encourage low-carbon lifestyles and consumption. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is attending the U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen as well.

For more information, visit www.cop15.state.gov.

Publication date: 12/14/2009

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